An eerie atmosphere has descended upon the career of Mrs. Britney Federline. There’s a strange sense that it’s balancing on a knife edge right now.
Over the last few months, Britney the woman has been slowly but steadily detaching and distancing herself from Britney Spears, the crazy, outrageous, much-maligned, over-protected pop princess. She has grown tired of being controlled by an army of money-grubbing managers and of being carried along on an overwhelming but remorseless and suffocating tide of success.
In 2001 she decided to take a break from the business, saying she was sick of herself. But she soon recovered, and within days was in the studio making her fourth album. Now, as the end of 2004 approaches, the sickness has become terminal.
The signs have been there for a while now, but we didn’t want to read them. When she briefed David LaChappelle about what she wanted for the “Everytime” video, there was one thing she made totally clear to him – she wanted to die in the video. And in the treatment which finally met with her approval, she was reborn, but her life-force was channeled into a new-born baby.
The reason she was not present at the Teen Choice Awards, or the VMAs, or the WMAs, and why she will not be present at any other awards shows or indeed any other media showcase events for the foreseeable future is that she is determined to escape from the past.
The public may buy My Prerogative and her Greatest Hits album, or they may not. She doesn’t care. She has no intention of promoting them in any way. “Britney Spears”, pop and celeb phenomenon, is dying and she has placed a “Do Not Resuscitate” notice on her bed.
She spent most of 2003 trashing her image as a squeaky clean, morally upright, loveable innocent . By the time the Onyx Hotel tour was cancelled following her serious knee injury in June 2004, it was as if she felt she hadn’t gone far enough. Now her beauty, glamour and showbiz gloss had to be trashed as well.
And so she has rarely taken much trouble to evade the increasingly savage attentions of the piranha-shoal of paparazzi who swarm constantly around her, nor has she in any way attempted to counter the constant stream of lies and inventions peddled by the tabloid press. As their bloodlust has reached a frenzy, fuelled by a growing sense that at last, after nearly 6 years of improbable survival, she has been fatally wounded, Britney Spears has simply looked them in the eye and put on another message T-shirt.
And so we come to the recent events in her life. The paparazzi pictures of the last few weeks have shown us, not the grumpy, depressed-looking Britney of June and July, but a girl who is rarely seen without a smile on her face. Her interview with Cojo, her first live appearance on TV for a very long time and probably her last, was almost euphoric.
But for her fans, what she said – and what she didn’t say – was deeply disturbing. She “had been doing way too much” before. What she valued in Kevin Federline, as much as his love, was the stability and calm he had brought to her life. She said not a word about anything she planned to do in relation to her career – because she has no plans.
“Being a young mom”, she said, was her dream. And this is the dream which has now replaced the dream of stardom for this highly motivated, powerfully focused and deeply determined young lady. Kevin Federline never had a chance. Britney wants a child, and she is going to have one. Her pregnancy will be announced within the next few weeks.
For her wedding, her hairstyle was simple, brunette and very un-showbiz. In an act of pure symbolism, she had stripped away the last vestiges of the glamour and unreality of the blonde bombshell Britney Spears and was ready to start again on a new life.
She didn’t want her wedding to be a showbiz event. She didn’t want it to be glamorous. Indeed, by the time of the after-wedding shindig, she had even removed her make-up. For the paparazzi she knew would be waiting, she wanted to look ordinary.
Since then, she has said that she’s becoming a woman and things will have to change. That means more attention to her life, and less to her career. She plans to be a mother in 2005, when she’s 23. Everything about her is inward-looking now. It’s all about what feels right, and real, and honest for her. The impulsive decision to bring her wedding date forward was just something she wanted to do.
She isn’t deliberately or wantonly neglecting her fans. She has simply cleansed herself of all that it means to be a pop star. She isn’t intending to make a new CD, or tour, or do any one-off concerts or TV spots. She has fulfilled her contractual obligations to Jive and to Elizabeth Arden. The horizon looks clear. Soon, she believes, the media will lose interest in her, and she can proceed to be a young mom without a care in the world.
Her dreams now are of tucking her baby in at night, of singing sweet lullabies, of pushing her buggy down the main street, of talking to other young moms at the nursery school gates… Britney does not see herself as a typical showbiz mom, hardly ever there. She will work as hard at being a mom as she did at being a star.
Will she ever come back? That’s what’s on the knife-edge. She was meant to be starting a new movie soon, but, unless contracts have been signed already, that will be put on hold. She will now go straight into her new life as a housewife and expectant mother.
But, somewhere in her mind, she will definitely be planning to come back sometime. When she does, she will do her utmost to make it the most astonishing comeback the world of showbiz has ever seen. She will be unrecognizably different. She will be Britney Federline.